by Gerald Grow
When people use language, they don’t reinvent it every time they want to say something. They use certain recurring forms of communication. These forms work because both the speaker and the listener understand how to use them as a way of thinking. So do the writer and the reader.
Some of the “modes of discourse” (to use the formal name) such as narration, have been expertly used by humans since the first storytellers, and persuasion has existed since the first argument.
Most of the modes, however, gained so much power with the invention of writing and printing that it was as if they were reinvented then. When people read and go to school, among the most useful tools they learn are these modes of discourse, which become so internalized that they function without notice. …
Build your day around the rhythms of the day. Forget clock-time, and make time to respond to what the day presents you. The greatest symphony in the world happens as the pre-dawn light rises into day and the sun comes up to the songs of birds. Make time for it, often.
Nature’s rhythms, because they are our own deepest rhythms, can be the greatest healer.
Consider this prescription for whatever ails you: Sunrise and sunset, each day, in silence and stillness, for two weeks.
Repeat as needed.
At least once, get up in the middle of the night, somewhere around 4 in the morning. Carefully go out to the edge of the known, the lighted world, or as far as you know to be safe for you, and tune in to the deepest hours of the night, the hours of greatest stillness, the huge hollow hours before dawn. …
What could happen if two fervently held, opposing rights become irreconcilable
Come with me for a moment while I spin a historical fable about a country being torn apart.
It’s the 2050s. An issue bitterly divides the United States. It could be anything — racism, inequity, injustice, immigration, incarceration, environment, climate, health care, taxes, sexual abuse, gender, guns, censorship, the financial system, language, jobs, culture, or others. — We’ll focus on abortion.
Let’s say that abortion is legal in all 50 states, but many citizens remain fiercely divided about it. That sounds like a place to start our tale.
Much of U.S. history continues as it always has — as a struggle between competing rights. …
At 70 and beyond, I have begun to be aphoristic. Perhaps the wisdom of the ages is beginning to condense into simple utterances of unending resonance. Or maybe I just don’t remember as well. Here goes.
Because in some way we are all part of one another, each of us is a multitude — yet also a self — and in the singularity of that doubleness, we learn our names.
People have asked how I made these images, so I’ll try to reconstruct the process for you. Realize, though, that they were more explored and discovered than they were planned or made. But there was a process I can describe.
Some of my perplexity comes in this duality, which I cannot tease apart: As isolated individuals, we are alienated from the universe, which often opposes us and which defeats us in the end.
But as products of that universe, made of its returning elements, breathing in what the trees breathe out, we are part and particle of everything — but part of an everything that does not value us as persons.
To feel connected, must I give up my sense of self? …
The Heart of the Sun
For a decade after I retired, I immersed myself in making wildly experimental digital photographs, as a way of doing something completely unlike anything I had ever done.
This resulted in a 75-page ebook. But because few people find that book, I am publishing excerpts here because I love these pictures, the experience of creating them, and the writing that comes with them — and I hope others will, too.
The writings sometimes relate to the pictures directly, sometimes they relate in a general way. …
I felt re-baptized in the river that runs through everything
I began working to see the world not as things but as processes, each interconnected to all the others, and all of them constantly changing.
I looked for signs of change in everything. If something looked permanent, I sought out the hidden maintenance — the repair, paint, and replacement on a building, for instance — that gave it the illusion of being unchanging.
I learned to think of trees not as things, but as the presently visible manifestation of an ongoing activity: treeing. The treeing may at this moment be in spring budding, or in autumnal gold, or in a winter bareness — but it was all treeing: a tree moving through seasons the way waves move through water: seed, sprout, shoot, then decades of cycling through the process of treeing. …
Some experiences are so powerful that they need a symbolic image to represent them
After I retired, I immersed myself in making wildly experimental digital photographs, as a way of doing something completely unlike anything I had ever done.
After a decade, I collected 75 images, along with some writings, in Dancing with a Camera in the Presence of Light, a $2.99 ebook available through Apple Books and Amazon Kindle.
Because few people find that book, I am publishing it in parts on Medium because I love these pictures, the experience of creating them, and the writing that comes with them — and I hope others will, too. …
Even if you do not write with these words, you think with the concepts behind them
When you write, transitions carry your reader from phrase to phrase, sentence to sentence, paragraph to paragraph, and through the major divisions of your article.
Although you may be able to write clearly without using transition words, they help readers know what they are reading about, how they got there, and where the thought is leading them. In early drafts, it is better to overuse transitions; you can always cut them later.
Readers need transitional words to guide thrm through each step of the…